Stories by Latex
"Ain't Nothin' Like Regret"
Not long after the death of Colossus, Wolverine and Rogue run into a ghost from Logan's past.
After the trauma of Inferno, Rogue and Havok commiserate on the failures in
After breaking up with Rogue and sleeping with Marrow, Gambit must face both
women's wrath when Marrow learns the truth about the Mutant Massacre.
Price of Coffee"
Beast, Iceman, Rogue and Mystique battle the Sentinels at Starbucks.
Disclaimer: the X-Men and any associated
characters and events are the property of Marvel. Although
I'm using them without Marvel's permission, I'm also not making
any money and so, hopefully, they'll overlook it. Please don't
sue me! This is written partly in response to Alara Rogers'
The Breakup Challenge, but also because I find angst and emotional
upheaval more interesting than save-the-universe type battles,
both to read and to write. Either way, any divergence from
the official continuity is my fault and occurs only as a result
of narrative imperative. That's my excuse, anyway, and I'm
sticking to it :). Feedback, either praise or constructive
criticism, is not only welcomed but craved, and should be
sent to Latex1@tinyonline.co.uk.
Flames will be treated with the disdain they deserve. It's
set, for those who care, shortly after UXM #380. Have fun.
The Morning After
The early morning sun streamed through the attic skylight,
causing stray dust motes to gleam like airborne flecks of
gold. The sunlight splashed over the plants in Ororo's room,
making everything brighter, more vibrant and alive. Humming
to herself, she created a small cloud and watched it shower
the plants with raindrops, moving gently from place to place
in the attic, giving each grouping of foliage just the right
amount of attention, never too much or too little, before
moving on to the next plant, ready to minister to its hydration
needs. This was Ororo's favourite time of the day, a still
and calm hour before many of the other inhabitants of Xavier's
were up, and she savoured the peace it brought.
Recently, she had been especially appreciative of her mutant
ability to manipulate weather, as losing it, albeit briefly,
had reminded her quite forcefully of the sheer hell she'd
gone through the first time she'd been stripped of her powers,
and the transcendent joy she'd experienced on regaining them.
Her bond with nature had been something she'd oftentimes taken
for granted and, while she did appreciate her awareness of
the natural and meteorological phenomena around her, it was
only in their absence she truly realised how integral a part
of her life her powers were.
All too often in the lives of the X-Men and the world they
inhabited, the circles in which they moved, peace and calm
were scarce and valuable commodities, all the more precious
for their rarity. Ororo was determined to enjoy these moments
to the full, fully to appreciate the tranquillity before the
interruption which would inevitably come. While the range
of potential disruptions to the early morning serenity was
great, taking in attacks by world-devouring monsters, snowball
fights in the summer courtesy of Bobby Drake (although no
longer the youngest member of the team, arguably still the
least mature or at least the most resistant to the inevitable
maturation process) and all manner of things in between, it
was one of the cornerstones of life in the X-Men that the
interruption would come.
As if on cue, she heard a tapping at her doorframe and, turning
her head, beheld Remy LeBeau leaning against the doorjamb
and looking decidedly the worse for wear. Ororo smiled, remembering
that a number of the team, at Logan's instigation, had taken
a little trip into Salem Center the night before to let off
some steam. Remy, she supposed, had attempted to match Logan
drink for drink. It might have worked against anyone without
a healing factor, and it seemed that Remy had been disabused
of the notion that he could outdrink anyone on the team the
"Y'got a minute, Stormy?" he asked.
"Not if you are going to call me by that ridiculous nickname,"
she replied, although they both knew that he did it only to
irritate her, a form of interaction, his way of expressing
affection, akin to dipping the girls' pigtails in the inkwell.
Remy flirted, therefore he was.
"Ororo," he said, "I need t'talk." Being so open, so plaintive,
so early in the conversation was unlike Remy and Ororo immediately
responded to the plea in his voice.
"Come in," she said, motioning him to enter her attic. He
did so moving, despite whatever was on his mind, with a catlike
elegance which, along with his almost-delicate good looks
and burning red eyes, had earned him more than his share of
admiring looks (and often more) from women over the years.
He slumped into a chair and she sat opposite him, perfect
posture in contrast to his slouch, yet both possessed of an
enviable grace. "What is bothering you, my friend?" she asked
without preamble, as he had already dispensed with small talk.
"I t'ink I screwed up, chere," he stated with a real air
"How, precisely?" Ororo asked, gently prompting him.
"Slept wit' someone dat maybe I shouldn't have."
"Someone who wasn't Rogue," Ororo clarified, no judgement
or disapproval. He didn't need that, just a friend, and she
would fulfil that role.
"Yeah. We were out last night, drinkin', an' I t'ink maybe
I had a few too many. Tryin' t'drown my sorrows y'know? T'ing
is, Rogue dumped me, told me it would never have worked, an'
I don' know, maybe I was tryin' t'prove I didn't need her,
or maybe I was just drunk an' horny, lookin' for solace where
I could find it. Either way, dis mornin' I woke up some place
I shouldn't've been in de first place, an' I don' know what
I'm gonna do. I mean, I don' wanna lie t'her, but tellin'
her ain't exactly gonna do me no favours in de reconciliation
department, an' it'd just hurt her. I don' know if we still
got a shot, if dere's still an 'us' t'fight for, but dis ain't
gonna help my chances any." Ororo nodded her silent assent,
eyebrows raised and lips pursed.
"Some woman you met last night?" she queried.
"Nope. Sleepin' wit' someone else ain't de whole story. Who
I slept wit' just complicates matters."
"Marrow." The brightness of the sunlight, painting everything
golden, was a strikingly ironic counterpoint to the abject
misery on Remy's face.
"Goddess," sighed Ororo, closing her eyes. "When you said
you'd 'screwed up', you were not wrong. Remy, she is just
a child. What were you thinking?"
"T'inkin' didn't have much t'do wit' it," Remy responded,
his head lowered, talking through the curtain of hair which
fell to obscure his face. "It just happened, an' dere ain't
a moment goes by I don' regret it."
"I'm sure Sarah would be touched to hear you say that." Ororo's
sarcasm was evident, and Remy struggled to keep his tone penitent
rather than defensive.
"Look, it ain't dat I don' care 'bout Sarah. Last night wasn't
just 'bout gettin' laid, an' I don' wanna hurt her, but ...
Ah, shit, y'know what de funny t'ing is? When we all just
lost our powers, dat would've been de perfect time for Rogue
an' me to 'consummate de relationship' as McCoy'd say, but
t'ings were kinda strange between us right den, an' now I
end up sleepin' wit' Sarah. Ain't life a bitch? T'ink I screwed
de pooch on dis one, chere."
"I assume at least this means that Sarah doesn't hold your
part in the formation of the Marauders against you?" Ororo
hadn't really meant to say that, or at least not quite so
bluntly, aware of how guilty Remy felt about the indirect
consequences of his work for Mr. Sinister. Nevertheless, it
had slipped out. A number of X-Men had been badly injured
in the slaughter that had taken place in the Alley that day.
Warren's wings had been amputated as a result, leading indirectly
to him becoming Death, one of the four Horsemen of Apocalypse.
And countless Morlocks, almost Sarah's entire familial community,
had been massacred. The event had stood between Remy and the
rest of the X-Men for a time, despite his regret and his attempts
at the time to stop the Marauders but, as Logan had said to
him shortly after his return to the team, Xavier's was a place
for second chances.
"Don' t'ink she knows," Remy said shortly. "It never came
up, an' for some reason I could never t'ink of a good time
t'tell her. 'Hey, Sarah, y'know de Marauders, de ones who
butchered most everyone you cared 'bout? Well, I was de one
t'bring 'em together. Sorry 'bout dat. Seemed like a good
idea at de time.' Can't see dat one playin' too well, somehow."
"She will find out eventually, Remy, and it would be better
coming from you than from someone else."
"Maybe, but I don' t'ink now's de time. Do you?"
"Oh, Remy," Ororo said. "You never do anything by halves,
do you?" Remy's silence was more eloquent than any verbal
response could ever have been.
The extensive grounds around Xavier's were not traditionally
a place where Sarah spent a great deal of time. She had spent
her early years underground in the Alley, separated (as were
all the Morlocks) from the world above by the physical nature
of their mutation, and had grown up after that on a world
ruled by the insane Mikhail Rasputin, conflict and battle
a way of life. Even after her physical transformation in a
Skrull medical device, a fact that rendered her uncontrollable
bone growth less uncontrollable, and certainly less painful,
it was difficult to overcome a lifetime of conditioning, where
all her experiences pointed to the same conclusion: sunlight
was a sign of danger, something to be fled rather than embraced.
But her time with the X-Men, the things she'd experienced,
had caused her to re-evaluate her perceptions.
She'd come to the team not entirely of her own will, bitter
and angry at everyone and everything, cultivating her lack
of social skills and determined not to fit in, rejecting them
before they had a chance to reject her as the pretty-pretty
upworlders had her whole life. But over time some of those
barriers had been broken down. She'd forged bonds with Peter
and Remy, even Ororo, ironic and unexpected in light of the
fact that their first meeting had ended with Ororo tearing
the heart from Sarah's chest in order to defuse the bomb linked
Her entire life she'd thought of herself as ugly, forever
set apart by her physical appearance, as had all the other
Morlocks, but recently her self-image had been called into
question. Peter, an artist as well as a not-unattractive man
in his own right had described her as 'beautiful', and then
during the period when they'd lost their powers there had
been Brad, who'd taken an interest in her. And last night
with Remy. She'd never dreamed of anything like it, had ruled
out the possibility of any tenderness from her life. To be
open was to be vulnerable and weak, she'd always been taught,
and had never questioned that lesson as all her experiences
had borne it out. Until now. Her worldview had been challenged,
and she found herself wanting desperately to believe that
the lessons she'd learned, hard and well, in her formative
years had not painted a complete picture. That there was more
to life than conflict and a struggle to survive, kill or be
So it was that morning that she walked the grounds actually
enjoying the warmth of the sunlight on her skin, learning
to take pleasure from it, where before she'd only ever been
taught to take cover. It was a beautiful morning, and a good
day to be alive.
High above, Warren Worthington III plummeted toward the ground,
tears flowing upward across his cheeks as he kept his head
turned unflinchingly into the wind, looking straight down
as the ground rushed up to meet him. The further he fell,
the thicker the air became, details of the tableau beneath
him resolving themselves. Breakstone Lake, Greymalkin Lane,
His wings, folded behind him to minimise his profile and
decrease wind resistance, snapped open and his trajectory
changed in one graceful, swooping arc from vertical to horizontal,
as he skimmed the top of the trees, detached leaves spinning
and dancing in his wake before fluttering gently to the ground.
His powerful, majestic wings beat once, twice and he soared
heavenward once again, the early morning sun hot on his face,
what few clouds there were pristine white against a sky of
such pure blue that it was almost painful in its beauty. He
was not a naturally early riser, but some mornings just forced
him out of bed and into the sky, an almost physical and certainly
irresistible imperative to take advantage of the freedom and
serenity offered by the open sky.
Here, for this time, he was free, doing rather than thinking,
flying on instinct and intuition with nothing so cerebral
as thought to get in the way of so transcendently and physically
poetic a moment. The sky was his, shared only with other winged
creatures, and the liberating pleasure that flying brought
was something which, he felt, could not be explained or articulated,
He was so caught up in the exultation of flight that he failed
to notice that he was being observed. His audience of one
watched, enthralled by the beauty of the man and the grace
of his performance, for performance it was, whether he knew
it was for a spectator or not. When finally he landed, it
was not applause from Sarah which drew his attention but rather
her silent and appreciative awe. He looked at her, aware of
her gaze and breathing a little harder than normal from his
"Wow," she managed. "That was incredible." He smiled, at
once amused by her obvious adulation of him and uncomfortable
because of it. Sarah's first sight of him in the Alley all
that time ago had made a very strong impression on her, and
in her eyes he still had the stature of a legend, both for
his beauty and for his efforts against the Marauders when
they had come to slaughter the Morlocks.
"Glad you liked it," he responded, keeping the tone light.
"I still feel out of place here, in the open," she confided.
"Exposed. But you make it all look so natural, like you belong
"I do," Warren replied, spreading his wings for emphasis.
"But I guess it's a far cry from the Alley, and all a little
disconcerting for you." Immediately he'd said it, he realised
how patronising it sounded, but it was too late to take it
back and to say anything would just draw more attention to
"No shit," she muttered, suddenly self-conscious and very
aware of both the vast expense of greenery and the paucity
of potential cover. Warren attempted to change the topic.
"What brings you out here at this time?" he asked. It appeared
to be the right question, as Sarah's expression changed from
discomfort to shy pleasure.
"Woke up early and thought I'd check out the sunrise, see
what everyone else seems to think is such a big deal."
"And was it?"
"Actually, yeah," she responded with a thoughtful and mildly
surprised look on her face. "But if you tell anyone, especially
the Wind Rider, I'll deny it!"
"It'll be our secret," Warren promised with a smile.
"Can I ask you somethin'?" she probed tentatively.
"You've known Gambit for a while, right? You know him better
than I do."
"I used to think so," Warren responded darkly. Sarah's brow
"What do you mean?"
"He's a man with a lot of secrets in his past," Warren said
cryptically, "and some of them aren't pretty. The kind that
come back to haunt you."
"Such as?" she pressed.
"Well, the fact that he once did some work for Sinister came
as something of a surprise to a lot of us," he answered with
a vehemence and depth of feeling, not bothering to mask his
bitterness. Then he saw the look on her face. "You didn't
"No. What kind of work?"
"Look, Sarah, I shouldn't have said anything. Gambit's mistakes
are in the past, and I'm sure he regrets them. He's moved
on, changed. He's a different person now."
"What kind of work?" she repeated, her tone hard, all trace
of adulation for Warren replaced by her need to know.
"I'm really not the person you should be talking to, Sarah."
"Tell me, goddamn it! What did he do?" Warren would later
rationalise the decision to Betsy, citing Sarah's right to
know, how she wouldn't be satisfied with anything less than
the truth, but deep inside a part of him wanted her to know,
wanted Remy held accountable for what he'd done. So he told
Girls, girls, girls!
Long legs and burgundy lips.
Girls, girls, girls,
Dancin' down on Sunset strip.
Motley Crue's paean to strip joints played in Remy's ears,
the sounds echoing throughout the garage as he methodically
reconstructed his motorcycle from the parts lying around him,
letting his fingers do the work while he tried desperately
to think of a solution to the mess he'd created. None was
immediately apparent. Vince Neil was just about to make reference
to Crazy Horse, Paris, France when a bone dagger interrupted
him permanently and terminally. Remy looked up to see Sarah
backlit by the sun. He began to rise, to ask what the matter
was, given the fact that her mood had been quite different
the last time they'd seen one another.
"You motherfucker!" she screamed at him, meeting his jaw
with her fist and sending him sprawling into the pool of disassembled
bike components. He looked at her, dumbfounded.
"What?" he managed.
"You," she hissed. "Sinister. The Marauders. My family!"
He rose to a crouch, began to stand, searching all the while
for something to say. Sarah lunged toward him, driving her
knee hard into his stomach. He sank to his knees, winded,
and the back of her hand connected with his cheek, opening
a cut and knocking him to the floor once again. He attempted
once more to rise, but she stamped on his leg just above the
knee; it gave way beneath him and he fell onto his back.
Almost immediately, she was astride him, fingers laced tight
in his hair, pulling his head back, and dagger at his throat.
"Gonna kill you," she snarled, tears of rage and grief streaming
down her face. "Bastard! How could you do that, not tell me?
What, you thought you'd make it up to me by fuckin' me? Throw
the poor little Morlock girl a bone?" The dagger pressed
harder against his throat, breaking the skin, drawing blood.
"What, no smartass remark? No excuse? Why? You son of a bitch!
Why?!" Remy began to attempt a response, a justification,
an apology, but she interrupted him. "Shut up! Shut up! Shut
the fuck up!" The bone dagger rose into the air, reached the
apex of its arc, and began its descent. Which was abruptly
halted as a hand clamped around Sarah's wrist.
"Get off him, Marrow." Logan's tone brooked no dissent. Sarah
rounded on him, releasing Remy in the process.
"Stay out of this, old man! He gathered the Marauders, he
as good as murdered the Morlocks!"
"I know what he did." Sarah looked incredulously at Logan.
"You knew? You all knew, but you still took him back?
You were fuckin' there! You, the Wind Rider, Colossus,
Rogue, all of you. You know what they did. You saw what they
did. An' it's his fault! How could you take him back?" They
circled each other, Logan interposing himself between Remy
and the nearly hysterical Sarah.
"He fucked up, no argument. But when he realised, he tried
to put it right, to stop the slaughter. An' he almost died
for it. How do you think you got out, girl? He found you,
wounded as he was, an' carried you to safety."
"An' that makes everythin' okay? He saved me, so it's right
that he led them there in the first place? What about all
the ones he didn't save? Without him, the Marauders wouldn't
even exist! Don't you get that?"
"So you want to kill him, punish him the way you can't punish
the Marauders? Is that gonna hurt them, or bring their victims
"It doesn't matter! I will make them pay, but right now he's
here and they're not, and he's not gettin' off that easy."
Logan looked her straight in the eyes.
"No," he said simply. "He made a mistake, but he ain't responsible
for the Morlocks' deaths. Now LeBeau ain't always my favourite
person, but he didn't kill the Morlocks an' you ain't killin'
"What, you think he's gonna make it up to me, make amends
for all the deaths? He can never make amends. An' last
night, actin' like he cared. It's okay to fuck me but never
to let me know the truth?" Logan's eyes narrowed as he assimilated
this new information.
"I'm not sayin' what he did, then or last night, was right,
but this ain't happenin', Sarah." She stood there, body vibrating
with rage and indecision, and for a moment it seemed that
she might try to kill them both. Then, she locked gazes with
Logan, eyes blazing with anguish and fury and frustration
"Fuck you both," she spat. She turned on her heel and stalked
away, speed increasing until she was running, sprinting away
from the garage and the two men.
"T'anks, mon ami," Remy rasped as he began to push himself
to his feet. Faster than Remy might have expected, Logan was
crouched in front of him, palm flat on his chest, forcing
him to stay down.
"I ain't your 'ami', asshole, an' I didn't say all that for
your sake. I said it for hers. Sarah's been through hell in
her life an', while me an' her have had our share of run-ins,
she's startin' to overcome a lot of what it's fashionable
to call her 'issues', an' to grow into someone worth knowin'.
You don't deserve to die for your part in the massacre in
the Alley, that much is true, but think about this, Gambit.
She's just startin' to let go of a lifetime's worth of hatred
an' suspicion, startin' to feel like maybe she has a home
here an' that she can trust us, an' then you go an' fuck her
'cause you're drunk an' feelin' lonely. You treated her like
a whore, Remy, whether you meant to or not. An' that's gonna
fuck with her ability to trust anyone. Considerin' the damage
you've done an' the trust you violated, was it worth it just
to get laid? You think about that." With a disgusted snort,
Logan rose and turned to go.
"Hey, Logan!" Remy called after him. "Any chance of you helpin'
me into de house so's I can see Beast an' get him to look
at dis leg?" Logan looked at him.
"I was you," he said, "I wouldn't be in such a hurry. You've
still got Rogue to face." He left without another word. Remy
sank back onto the floor with a groan. This was not turning
out to be one of his better days.
The dense foliage might have made fairly decent camouflage
if Sarah had been remotely interested in covering her tracks,
or had been searched for by anyone but Logan. As it was he
followed her without even trying. His approach to her was
far stealthier than her flight from him had been, but she
nevertheless detected him. Wordlessly, with anger still burning
in her eyes, she spun and flung a bone dagger with startling
accuracy at his throat. He slapped it away, opening a cut
on his hand which he ignored as it healed almost instantly.
She looked at him with almost unspeakable bitterness.
"Which part of 'fuck you' didn't you understand?" she said,
turning her head away from him. She wouldn't let him see her
cry. But he knew anyway. He squatted a little way from her,
giving her space.
"You can't hide here forever."
"Who says I'm hidin'? Who says I gotta come back at all?
Why should I? So you can all laugh at me? The ugly little
Morlock girl, stupid enough to let the Cajun into her pants."
"It's not a crime to want to be loved," he pointed out, with
a gentleness surprising considering the historically antagonistic
nature of their relationship.
"It wasn't love," she replied with bitterness tinged with
self-loathing. "Obviously. We just fucked. Anyway, what do
you care? You're the last person I'd expect to do the whole
heart-to-heart thing, especially with me. Thought you were
more interested in repayin' me for shovin' a bone through
"Girl," he snapped, "you got in that shot because I let my
guard down. That was my mistake. Yours was in uppin' the ante,
because you pushed too hard an' I would've killed you there
an' then if Guthrie hadn't saved you. But I'm not here to
"Then what do you want?"
"You ain't the same person who thought she could take me
down an' almost died because she was wrong," Logan responded.
"You've grown an', whether you realise it or not, you've got
friends on the team."
"Like you?" she asked scornfully.
"Nope," he replied with a hard, predatory smile. "I ain't
your friend. In fact, there're times I'd as soon kick your
ass as look at you, but Peter cares, an' Ororo, an' I know
you've been buildin' bridges with her recently. You've earned
a place here, Sarah. Don't throw it away because of one night."
She was silent for a time.
"I thought he cared," she said finally. "He went out of his
way to save me with that Skrull machine, even if it was just
out of guilt for hurtin' me in the first place. An', I guess,
also for his part in what happened in the Alley. An' I can't
forgive him for that. You understand? But I was really startin'
to like him. I though last night meant somethin' to him."
"LeBeau's got a lot of shit to work through at the moment,"
Logan stated, "an' he was wrong to drag you into it. But last
night wasn't just his mistake, Sarah. It was yours, too. Question
is, how do you deal with it now? Do you run away, or do you
stay an' learn from it? Your choice. You want to discuss this
further, you know where to find me." With that, he left her,
melting back into the trees and leaving her alone with her
"Rogue, you busy?"
Rogue looked up from the television screen, where the video
of True Romance was playing, to see Remy. Whatever flippant
response she might have been inclined to make died in her
throat as she saw the bruises and the way he was limping.
"What happened to you?" she asked with genuine concern.
"Dat's part of what I gotta talk t'you 'bout, chere," he
answered. The gravity of his tone was causing Rogue some minor
apprehension. She fished around for the remote control and
cut Christopher Walken off halfway through his 'I am the Antichrist'
"Have a seat, sugar," she said, indicating the couch beside
her. "This sounds serious."
"It is. I got some t'ings t'tell you, an' you ain't gonna
like hearin' 'em, but I gotta be honest wit' you." Trying
her best to ignore the leaden feeling of dread growing in
her stomach, Rogue indicated that he should go on. "Please,
hear me out before sayin' anyt'in'," he continued.
"Remy," she said with a smile calculated to ease the tension,
but which they both knew was false, "you're makin' me nervous.
Just tell me. Ah mean, how bad can it be?" Remy took a deep
"Rogue, y'know I love you. An' all dat's been goin' on recently,
an' you sayin' it was over between us, I've had a hard time
dealin' wit' it. Well, last night, a group of us went out
an' I was tryin' t'drown my sorrows, an' I guess I tried a
bit too hard. I did somet'in' really stupid, chere, an' I
don' know how t'tell you dis, but it's better comin' from
me dan from someone else."
"Remy," said Rogue impatiently, a hint of real fear in her
eyes, "stop editorialisin' an' just tell me, damn it."
"I slept wit' Sarah," he said simply, shame coating every
syllable, looking into her widening eyes and seeing her heart
break even as he said the words. He held her gaze, searching
desperately for some sign of potential forgiveness, but saw
only the tears welling up and the look of disbelief and betrayal
on her face. "I didn't mean t'do it," he continued in a pleading
tone. "I didn't plan on it, it just happened, an' I am so,
so sorry." He reached out to her, placing his hand tentatively
on her arm.
"Don't you touch me," she whispered with vehemence. She made
no sudden movement to move away from him; she didn't have
to. Remy withdrew his hand from her arm.
"I'm so sorry, chere," he said plaintively. "Rogue, I love
"An' you thought you'd convince me of that by fuckin' Marrow?"
She virtually spat the words at him. "Don't even try t'justify
it, Remy. Ah'm sure Ah know how it goes: you're a man, you
have needs. You were just a victim of your gender, of your
"It wasn't like dat," he began to protest, but was cut off
by the fury in her eyes.
"Don't you dare try an' excuse what you did, Remy LeBeau!
Bottom line, you got drunk an' slept with someone else. An'
no matter what you thought about us an' whether the relationship
had any future, what you did tells me all Ah need t'know about
the depth of your feelin' for me an' about how committed you're
"So don't you touch me, don't even try t'talk t'me, 'cause
right now Ah got nothin' t'say t'you an' no interest in anythin'
you might have t'say t'me." She rose and began to move toward
the door. Remy pushed himself up and began to follow her.
"Rogue," he began. She whirled around and hit him, palm flat,
in the chest. The force with which Remy sat back down again
tipped the couch over and left him lying on the floor, legs
in the air, trying desperately to draw breath.
"Leave me alone, Remy," Rogue said in an even tone belied
by the tears in her eyes, "because if you come near me again
right now Ah'll make you wish you'd died in the Antarctic."
With that she turned on her heel and stalked out of the room,
leaving Remy gasping for breath and nursing what he suspected
were several broken ribs. His struggle to respire was interrupted
by the entry of Hank McCoy.
"Mr. LeBeau," he began as he bounced into the room, "I hear
you had a little contretemps with our magenta-haired Morlock
earlier and that you might be in need of minor medical attention."
He spotted Remy lying on the floor, and squatted beside him.
"Am I to infer from your somewhat ignominious pose and Rogue's
not entirely jovial countenance as she exited that you have
likewise incurred her wrath? Remy, my boy, what is this strange
power you've developed over the female of the species?" Remy
coughed and, with some assistance from Hank, manoeuvred himself
to a sitting position.
"I don' know," he grimaced, "but I hope I lose it soon."
The fact that it was the smell of cigar smoke that first
alerted Remy to Logan's presence, and the fact that he'd not
heard the shorter man's approach, did nothing to improve Remy's
mood. Dusk had fallen and the interior of the garage was illuminated
only by a naked lightbulb hanging from the ceiling. He looked
up from the complex interweaving of bag and bungee cord and
met Logan's steady, challenging gaze. Logan spoke first.
"You leavin'?" he asked. The question was redundant, as the
fact that Remy was securing a bag to the back of his Ducati
was conclusive enough circumstantial evidence.
"Dat was de general idea. You come t'wish me adieu?"
"Depends on why you're goin'."
"Considerin' de fact dat you were dere when Sarah was beatin'
de shit outta me, an' you heard what she said, I'm surprised
you askin'. Would'a t'ought it was fairly obvious. Like you
said yourself, I t'ink I done enough damage for de moment,
an' me leavin' would mos' likely be best for everyone."
"Certainly for you," Logan commented. "Hell of a lot simpler
an' easier to run away than stay an' deal with the mess you
created. But I guess that's what separates the men from the
boys, ain't it?" He raised an eyebrow, blew a cloud of smoke
out through his nose. "You remember what I said to you when
you came back?"
"Mem'ry serves, somet'in' 'bout Xavier's bein' a place for
second chances. Dat an' t'reatened t'kick my ass if I broke
Rogue's heart again. Dat what dis is? Prelude to an ass-kickin'?"
"Nope. Figure you got your ass kicked thoroughly enough already.
An' you deserved it."
"I ain't in de mood for a lecture, old man," Remy said, eyes
narrowing and a dangerous tone creeping into his voice.
"You fucked up, LeBeau," Logan continued as though Remy hadn't
spoken, "an' that's a fact. Question is, are you gonna learn
from the mistake or take the path of least resistance? Now,
I don't doubt that it'd be easier to go, an' I'm not pretendin'
that it'll be easy if you stay. But you go, an' you got no
chance of repairin' the damage you've done, either to your
relationship with Rogue, or Sarah, or to any respect anyone
else might've had for you. Apology's liable to become a way
of life for you for a while if you do stay: question you got
to ask yourself is, do you think what you've got here's worth
fightin' for? You stay, there'll be a price to be paid, but
what would leavin' cost you? The decision's yours, Gambit."
Before Remy could respond, while he was still formulating
a reply, Logan turned and strode out into the night, leaving
in his wake only the fading scent of cigar smoke and the memory
of his words.
Remy stared after him long after he had faded into the darkness,
his expression giving no sign what he was thinking. After
what seemed like an eternity, he abruptly turned back to his
bike and the bag tied to it. His long coat brushing the dusty
floor, Remy again turned his attention to the bag on the back
of his motorcycle. And untied it.
Flicking off the light, he emerged from the garage and, holding
his bag in such a way as not to place undue strain on his
ribs and intercostal muscles, regarded the mansion. He stood
there, surrounded by the myriad sounds of the night, lent
mystery and mystique by the darkness that simultaneously obscured
them and made them seem more ethereal and otherworldly than
they were, an illusion made possible only by the absence of
the enforced acknowledgement of reality brought by daylight.
He surveyed the lights burning in the windows, watching the
silhouettes of his teammates, and squared his shoulders. Home
was that place that, when you had to go there, they had to
take you in.
It was time to see if Xavier's was still that place.
Okay, that's it. Let me know what you
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